NXNE 2013 is upon us. Everyone wants your attention. Without a doubt the buzz of ‘what’s hot’ and ‘the places to be seen at’ are deafening. SASSYTIDBITS is taking the ‘off the beaten path’ approach and looking at acts playing smaller clubs, earlier time slots or picked just because we like them. Here are 16 artists that we believe are worth checking out. Read more
I was just in my local record emporium, Eastside Records in Tempe, AZ, with a friend, and Michael, the energetic owner, said he was copying some music to work out to. Lo and behold, he was playing the Pretenders first LP, a verified classic that I still listen to and play songs from when I play out. I told my friend if she didn’t have that LP, she should buy it straightaway, and she’d thank me for it later. It was $2.99 – the record isn’t really rare, but it’s essential.
Along with the Supertramp, Earth, Wind and Fire, Chic, J. Geils Band, Styx, Molly Hatchet, Rod Stewart, and Kingfishers records, my older brothers and sister also had the first Pretenders record. I was a lucky kid – my oldest brother worked the door at one of Seattle’s first punk clubs, Wrex, and he turned me on to the Clash, the Sex Pistols, the Specials, and other early punk and other music. Although the first record I bought was the Rolling StonesEmotional Rescue – it was 1980, I was 11 at the time, and I loved Some Girls and Big Hits – High Tide and Green Grass so I thought it wasn’t much of a gamble – before then I relied on what my siblings had at home, and I played these records on my dad’s home hi-fi (that included a reel-to-reel). I don’t own any of those records (except the Earth, Wind and Fire), and although I saw the reissue of the Supertramp at Eastside recently and imagined myself listening to it, I wasn’t drawn to it enough to buy it. The Pretenders, however, are a completely different story. Read more
So, this happened; Poetry In Voice. National Finals May 15th, 2013. Isabel Bader Theatre. Toronto.
One of my favorite events each year, Poetry In Voice is a charming and earnest competition, establishing it as one of the many things that make Canada special. That we elevate the importance of Poetry in this way should give us all an overwhelming sense of pride. And we have Scott Griffin of The Griffin Trust For Excellence in Poetry to thank for this tremendous gift. The Griffin Poetry Prize (also another favorite event of mine) is one of the world’s most generous awards for Poetry and I highly recommend attending the event, it will fill your heart and expand your mind.
Poetry In Voice is a national poetry recitation contest for high school students. Thirty nine finalists are advanced after competing at the classroom level in both French and English to the national finals held over three days in Toronto (including a trip to the AGO and time with Margaret Atwood!), culminating into nine final participants reciting their poems of choice for a panel of Judges and audience. The 1st prize is $5,000 for the student and $1,000 for their school library of which $500 is dedicated to the purchase of poetry books) and each of the nine who competed received some kind of cash prize for themselves and their school. pretty amazing stuff! And let’s not forget to recognize the Teachers who dedicate themselves to getting the students here.
I began to tear up immediately as the students filed on stage for introductions. I was overcome by the absolutely beautiful picture of Canada standing before us. Read more
SASSYTIDBITS caught the following two films, Good Ol’ Freda and Our Nixon, at Hot Docs. Both films feature rarely seen footage, images and an insight into a specific time; The Beatles rise and demise, Nixon’s election and Watergate.
Good Ol’ Freda, Directed by Ryan White (86 minutes)
Quick Summary: Freda Kelly dubbed “The Luckiest Girl in the World” worked as The Beatles’ secretary for 11 years. There at the beginning, the intensely private Freda is finally is telling her story.
Our Thoughts: Pictures of The Beatles at The Cavern Club and the first hand account of how it felt when they were just lads playing about town makes this film. The impact of their incredible fame, on themselves, their team and their families is captured. This film also shows the work and commitment fans needed to connect with their favourite bands before the internet. We know that Freda still has a few stories that she isn’t quite willing to share with the world, so maybe a pint or two at her house is warranted. It’s nice to see that Freda remains the same as she was at the beginning….a Beatles fan.
Quick Summary: During the Nixon administration, three of his top White House aides, H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman and Dwight Chapin, continuously capture the presidency on Super 8 film. The footage was seized by the FBI during the Watergate investigation, then filed away and forgotten for almost 40 years, until now. Read more
SASSYTIDBITS caught the following two films, The Punk Singer and Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer, at Hot Docs. Both films explore how the voice of young women can change the world.
The Punk Singer, Directed by Sini Anderson (80 minutes)
Quick Summary: Kathleen Hanna lead singer for Bikini Kill, Le Tigre & The Julie Ruin has influenced several generations of young women, by starting a punk rock band.
Our Thoughts: This documentary will be a trip down memory lane for a few, a ‘setting the record’ straight for some and definitely a history lesson for many. Overall it is an inspiring film that proves all you need is an idea, however big or small, and the gumption to make it a reality. You may never know if the path you set yourself on will be just yours or shared by many. Kathleen Hanna became a much needed voice, whether she wanted to be or not, and her influence can still be found today. The most heartening part is that she is still here and still has more to say.
SASSYTIDBITS caught Elena and Wrong Time Wrong Place at Hot Docs. The tragedy in each film comes with a the message of love and the pain of healing.
Elena, Directed by Petra Costa (82 minutes)
Quick Summary: A young woman from Brazil pays tribute to her older sister in film. Petra’s life follows the similar footsteps of her older sister Elena to NYC. By being in the city and exploring the past, Petra is able to find the sister she lost and loves.
Our Thoughts: Every family has a story. The music and street footage mixed with old video clips of Elena are startling at times. The sisters look so much alike it can play tricks on your mind. To hear the words from Elena’s journals read out loud allow the viewer an insight into her depression and hopes for the future. The pace of the film feels like a beautiful modern dance.
We had the good fortune to be able to secure a few advance screeners for some of our top Hot Docs film picks. Tonight the Les Blank Retrospective begins with the Maestros program which includes: Dizzy Gillespie, The Blues According to Lightnin’ Hopkins and The Maestro: King of the Cowboy Artists.
Dizzy Gillespie, Directed by Les Blank (20 minutes)
Quick Summary: Released in 1965, Les Blank films Dizzy Gillespie in 1964 playing with his band, chatting on how he got his start playing and his thoughts on music theory.
Our Thoughts: This grainy black and white short film captures the spirit of Dizzy Gillespie and his talent. Not only do you wish you could have been there to hang out with him, you also feel compelled to immediately put on his albums and listen for days. It is easy to see why Dizzy Gillespie inspired many generations of musicians. Les Blank’s ability to capture a moment in time and the spirit of the person is undeniable.
The Blues According to Lightnin’ Hopkins, Directed by Les Blank with Skip Gerson (31 minutes)
Quick Summary: Les Blank visits legendary bluesman Lightnin’ Hopkins in Texas during 1968. Fantastic vivid footage of Lightinin’ Hopkins playing the blues with friends which includes an outdoor bbq scene, is interchanged with footage from his home town of Centerville, TX and a black rodeo. Read more
So, This Happened; Three nights of pure bliss with Patti Smith
March 7, 2013; Patti Smith –An Evening of Words and Song at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Was the perfect balance of songs and reading from Just Kids. As I hadn’t seen her perform live for several years, my anticipation ran high and even as this was a small setting, she didn’t disappoint.
March 8, 2013 – Dream of Life film screening + Q & A at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Patti and the director Steven Sebring greeted us before things started and talked about the inception of the film. I hadn’t seen this film before so was hoping for exactly what we got – an intimate (but not overly intrusive) peek into the life of this mother, painter, poet, musician and activist.
March 9, 2013 – Patti Smith Live with Jesse Paris Smith, Jackson Smith and Tony Shanahan at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, in tribute to Robert Mapplethorpe. A sold out show that I was fortunate to have good friends go out of their way to ensure I could attend was a gift on many levels and ultimately the icing on top of an already delicious cake.
Every opening line I have thought of for this piece has crippled me, they all sound so cliché – gems like ‘where were you when you discovered Patti Smith?’, ‘The woman who merged poetry & rock with ease, blew it apart and put it back together again’ etc. etc. – you get the drift. What I did finally come up with was this; In my life (so far) I could assemble a banquet room full of people that I admire and Patti Smith would definitely make the guest list. Read more
When we heard Sandra Bernhard was going to be in town performing her acclaimed one woman show “I Love Being Me, Don’t You?” we snapped up our tickets immediately. As she summarized during her performance on March 22, “the bitch is back” and to that we said “hallelujah”.
She started in the comedy business in the late 70s, making a name for herself with her pull no punches critiques of celebrities and political figures. It’s a formula she stuck to through out her career, this latest show being no exception.
Bernhard took the audience through a meandering evening of celebrity lambasting, disbelief at the current political situation in the US and observations on current culture (Trader Joe’s vs. Whole Foods, for example, where she allegedly ran screaming from the former due to their display of wizened peppers).